Photo via NY Daily News
Okay, so it turned out not to be a total failure--the G8 nations (the US, UK, France, etc) ended up pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, and to work towards keeping temperature levels from rising 2 degrees Celsius. As for the developing countries, led by China, India, and Brazil--they pretty much said, 'We'll get back to you.'Yesterday, hopes were dashed when the G8 summit ended without any major agreement on setting emission reduction targets. India and China refused to agree to a 50% reduction by 2050--the G8's proposed target for the developing countries--without seeing stronger commitments from rich nations sooner. India in particular has called on the developed world as a whole to make cuts of 25-40% by 2020 in order to get them to agree to any kind of mid-century targets. Essentially, a stalemate was hit, with both sides refusing to agree to tougher cuts.
But it wasn't all for naught--the G8 countries went ahead and pledged to reduce emissions. From Bloomberg:
The Group of Eight agreed for the first time to cut greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050, and developing nations led by China and India pledged to set a mid- century goal by December, a person familiar with the talks said.Perhaps that's a good start, but it's hardly a binding commitment--2050 is a long ways away, and saying that the developed wold will reduce emissions 80% sure sounds nice. But the truth is, no hard policy need follow up that bold-sounding proclamation.
And the developing countries know this--there's no reason they should be swayed by the G8's waving around some pie in the sky figure. Developed nations should commit to more stringent targets before developing ones are forced to--not only are we more responsible for the current greenhouse gas accumulation, but we're in a more sound economic position to do so. It's an opportunity to lead by example as well. We need to show the world that we're serious about reducing our emissions before we start asking developing nations to do the same.
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